Categories
February Weather Ice and Snow January Weather

Two photos of the frozen River Wear 1981/82 and 1895.

Two amazing photos of the frozen River Wear in Durham.

The first, credited to Matthew Avery and Helen Avery is of the Cathedral across the frozen river. Although Helen originally thought it was from 1983, it’s almost certainly from a year earlier in the winter of 1981/82.

December 1981 and the first half of January 1982 were very severe, particularly 8th-27th December 1981 and 6th-16th January 1982, so this picture was most likely taken in one of these periods (probably December 1981). The blue tint on the photograph makes it look very cold indeed.

Frozen River Wear, Winter 1981/82
Frozen River Wear, Winter 1981/82. By courtesy of Matthew Avery and Helen Avery.
Frozen River Wear, Winter 1981/82. By courtesy of Matthew Avery and Helen Avery.

Here’s a comment from James Clark on the I Love Durham Facebook group. Thanks James 😁

The second one is from Stephen Kitson who says he was given it when the Cock O The North pub closed in April 2005. The picture was hanging in the pub. He was told it was from the 1830’s, but it’s likely to be from a set of photos taken in February 1895 of skating on the river.

Photo of skating on the River Wear in February 1895. Previously hung in the Cock O The North pub
Photo of skating on the River Wear in February 1895. Previously hung in the Cock O The North pub. Courtesy of Stephen Kitson.
Categories
May Weather Monthly Summary Spring Weather

May 2020 Report – Warm, Dry and Sunny Again

Picture by Mark Pritchard

The Weather in Durham in May 2020.

May 2020 continued the Spring theme in that it was very dry overall, after the first few days, but they yielded some heavy hail showers on May 3rd. This picture was taken in Darlington, about 18 miles to the south of Durham. The weather soon calmed down though and the overwhelming feature was the anticyclone close to the UK, almost all the way through the month after the first couple of days.

Sunny as well – according to The Met Office. Sunshine records were broken across the country in Spring 2020. Could this be due to the drop in air pollution during Coronavirus lockdown? I don’t know, but the weather has been beautiful. Here’s a little graphic showing the stats in a nutshell.

I don’t record sunshine totals at Durham because of the restrictions around my location (buildings obstructing the site), but it seems conditions were more or less the same all over the country. However, the long term figures for Durham University indicate that 447.4hrs of sunshine is normal for Durham.

Here’s a link to the Met Office for more detailed info.

May 2020 becomes the sunniest calendar month on record

Temperature in May 2020

The temperature in May 2020 was well above normal. The long term means for Durham are Max 15.0 degC and Min 6.1 degC. Here are the daily records.  The mean maximum came in at 18.2 degC, which is 3.2 degC above average. The average minimum was also 2.0 degC above average.

The thermometer passed the 25 degC mark on 3 days (20th, 28th and 29th) and was also over 20 degC on a further 7 days. The absolute maximum was 27.2 degC on the 29th. The chilly nights of the 2nd week resulted in the minima of 1.9 degC early on the morning of the 13th.

Rainfall in May 2020

May 2020 was very dry, with only 18.8 mm recorded. This came after the very low total for April 2020. This made the total rainfall for Spring a meagre 44.6 mm. The mean rainfall for Spring in Durham is 141.5 mm, so a 68.5% deficit.

Atmospheric Pressure in May 2020

The mean pressure for the month was 1025.1 mb, which is incredibly high for a monthly average. 28 of the month’s days could be classified as Anticyclonic, with only the 1st, 2nd and 22nd dropped into cyclonic territory. This probably explained the low rainfall totals.

The high pressure wasn’t always in the right place for optimum warmth, at times dragging in a cold breeze from the North Sea, most notably in the second week.

Summary for May 2020

Another exceptional month. The extreme dryness came after a very prolonged wet spell spanning the second half of 2019 up until February 2020. Because of this, the water table was already exceptionally high at the start of the year and no difficulties should really be had over the summer months.

It remains to be seen whether the balmy conditions continue into June 2020, but the early signs don’t look too good, with northerly winds and rain forecast in the early part of the month.

Categories
April Weather Monthly Summary Spring Weather

April 2020 Monthly Weather Report – Very Warm and Dry

April 2020 was an extraordinary month in more senses than just Weather.

By now, you’ve probably noticed that we’re still in lockdown. The confusion of the second half of March continued into the first part of April, but I got the feeling that people were gradually getting used to it. The weather had also been tempting to those who were desperate to be outside.

See some photographs from lockdown in Durham

Although I don’t record it at Durham, the Met Office have said that April 2020 was exceptionally sunny. This was apparent to me because we’d spent a good deal of time out in the garden whilst coffee shops, pubs and restaurants were out of bounds to us.

It was also a very mild month. In fact, the mean maximum temperature was way above what I would expect for April. The normal for Durham is 11.9 degC. In April 2020, the mean maximum was 14.8 degC (+2.9). The mean minimum was also well above normal at 5.5 degC, which is +1.8 degC above average. It reached 20 degC on 3 days – the 8th, 11th and 15th. So the second week was undoubtedly the best, although the 13th was a notably cold day as the High Pressure brought cold winds off the North Sea. The maximum was only 7.3 degC. There was also an air frost the following night, the only instance in the month.

As well as the previously mentioned warmth, April was phenomenally dry. There was only 3.9mm of rain recorded for the whole month. That is probably in the top 10 of driest Aprils at Durham (I await the report from the official Durham University station as this will give the definitive narrative).

Update : Only 1938 (2.2 mm) and 1912 (2.4 mm) have seen drier Aprils since 1850. Only four years have seen fewer rain days in April: 3 in 1912 and 4 in 1938, 1974 and 2011.

The cause of the good weather? Undoubtedly High Pressure systems which seemed to be in and around the UK for most of the month. If we define the High/Low borderline for Air Pressure at 1013mb, then April had 26 Anticyclonic days, compared with just 4 cyclonic ones (all at the very end of the month). The High Pressure did tend to wander though, and subtle changes in position made big differences to the weather we experienced.

 

Categories
April Weather Durham Photos Spring Weather Sunrise/Sunsets

Incredible Red Sunset in Durham April 26th 2020

Just had this photo sent of the incredible sunset of 26th April. The sun was setting under a shallow cloud cover and it produced this red sunset and double rainbow. The cloud produced the first measurable rain for 2 weeks, in what looks destined to be one of the driest Aprils on record in Durham.

The driest April was in 1938. This month only received 2mm of rainfall.

Incredible Red Sunset in Durham April 26th 2020
Incredible Red Sunset in Durham April 26th 2020
Double Rainbow April 26th 2020
Double Rainbow April 26th 2020

Categories
April Weather Durham Photos Nature Spring Weather

A Walk around the Riverside during lockdown

We’re all locked up at home with Coronavirus, but they let us out to get exercise, so we took the opportunity to go for a stroll in the sunshine.

Many paths to take to the River Wear
Many paths to take to the River Wear
Durham Cathedral through the trees
Durham Cathedral through the trees
The Rowing Club from across the River Wear
The Rowing Club from across the River Wear
Tree Bark with moss
Tree Bark with moss
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens (2)
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens (2)
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens
The Path from The River Wear to Old Durham Gardens
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (4)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (4)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (3)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (3)
Durham in Tiles - Old Durham Garden
Durham in Tiles – Old Durham Garden
Old Durham Gardens from the path
Old Durham Gardens from the path
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (2)
Old Durham Gardens from the terrace (2)
Durham Cathedral through a gap in the hedge
Durham Cathedral through a gap in the hedge
Old Durham Gardens from the Terrace
Old Durham Gardens from the Terrace
Parched Earth in April 2020
Parched Earth in April 2020

Categories
Yearly Summary

Durham Weather Summary 2019 – Wet and Warm

The Weather of 2019 in Durham was quite noteworthy, particularly because there were some very warm temperatures and also the second half of 2019 was very wet.

Some very mild temperatures in February

Once again, the winter was on the mild side, especially in February when the 20 degC mark was breached in the UK for the first time. In Durham, the maximum was 17.1 degC and we were lucky enough to spend the time it occurred in York, sitting by the river in T-shirts as if it were a Summer’s day.

Warm Easter weekend

Easter was in April and once again the Bank Holiday was blessed with great weather. Unbroken sunshine over the weekend made it a very memorable holiday. Once again we were away from home, up on the East Coast at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. The kite festival was on and we came back with a suntan (in April!).

July had record heat

The summer featured some very warm temperatures, peaking in July when the UK record was broken at Cambridge Botanical Garden. The temperature of 38.7 degC beat the old record by 0.2 degC. In Durham, I recorded 33.7 degC, which compared to the 32.9 degC at the official station at Durham University Observatory on Potter’s Bank.

Very wet in the second half of the year

The biggest feature of the second half of the year was it’s intense wetness. From June until November, rainfall was well above average. The wettest month was June itself (129.7mm), closely followed by November (129.3mm). Durham got away without any major flooding, but other parts of the country weren’t so lucky, with a dam close to collapse in Derbyshire and serious flooding in Sheffield later.

The overall rainfall total for the year was 806.1mm, which is about 150mm above normal for a year in Durham. The wettest day was 8th June with 31.8mm, but there were 25 days with more than a 10mm fall, which is high.

 

Categories
Winter Weather

Loudon Wainwright III – You Don’t Want to Know [1987]

Here’s a song by one of my favourite artists, Loudon Wainwright III. It was written during the cold spell in 1987, when Loudon was living in England.

Loudon Wainwright III – You don’t want to know (1987)

It was colder than a witches tit, colder than a Polar bear’s nose,
Colder than the shoulder of my old flame, colder than hell ever knows,
Not quite as cold as you think it is when the wind chill factors blow,
But at Centigrade and Fahrenheit it felt way below zero.

The electric duvet was cranked way up to 10, the gas fires were on full blast,
When i get the bills from both of those Boards i don’t know if the money will last,
I was fully clothed in my entire wardrobe but i still couldn’t feel my toes,
The pipes all burst and we had another first, the water in the toilet bowl froze.

When the radio ordered me to stay at home i obeyed though i was miffed,
But the roads were ice, there was a ton of snow, and when the wind blows snow will drift,
I was brushing and flossing my chattering teeth and in the mirror i saw my breath,
Half frozen watching the TV news, the other half of me was worried to death.

We’ve got helicopter rescues and freezing old ladies and the choochoo trains won’t go,
On the M4 there’s a 5 mile tailback, lorries jacknifing in the snow,
And it’s summertime down in Australia and what gets right under my skin,
On the TV they showing suntanned cricketers, they’re just rubbing it in !

And they’re saying it’s from Siberia, that Communist, Arctic zone,
What we’ve got is a Russian plot to make the World it’s ice-cream cone,
Whether we’re gonna get a break, the weatherman will not say,
I took my dog for a walk and he took a crap, you won’t smell it until April or May.

And the same thing happened here last year, but you don’t want to know,
In England people go around wearing raincoats and training shoes in the snow.

It was the coldest day on record, in the coldest week in memory,
It was the coldest month in the coldest year on the coldest night in history,
But don’t ask me just how cold it was, you don’t want to know,
On Centigrade and Fahrenheit it felt way below zero,
I’m talking Centigrade and Fahrenheit, it was way below zero.

Loudon Wainwright III – You don’t want to know (1987)

from the album “Therapy

Categories
Autumn Weather Flooding and Rainfall November Weather

22nd November 2017 – Cloudburst and deluge

This was a very wet day, but most of the rainfall fell after 8pm on 22nd. We were travelling back home and had to pull the car over in Tudhoe as we couldn’t make out where the road was!

Rainfall became absolutely torrential and 49.3mm was recorded in about 3 hours by the rain guage in Gilesgate. The Durham University met station recorded 39.2mm, which they say is the 50th wettest day ever recorded in Durham since 1850.

From Tim Burt:

November was warmer than average, but not exceptionally so. All three ‘mean’ measures were above average. Even so, the number of ground frosts (17) was also above average. It would have been a dry month too, except for the exceptional downpour on 22nd when a total of 38.2mm was recorded, the equal 58th wettest day on record at Durham since 1850. If we use the ‘meteorological day’ (starting 09:00), then the total was 39.2mm, equal to the total on 28th July 2013, the 50th equal wettest day on record and thereby the equal wettest day since 16th April 2005. There were some exceptional hourly intensities: 9.4mm in the hour ending 20:00 GMT; 9.2mm in the hour ending 22:00 GMT and 7.2mm in the hour ending 23:00 GMT. The number of rain days (12) was well below average (18). It was a sunny month, the sunniest November since 2013 and the 7th sunniest November at Durham since 1882.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2016-2020/the-weather-at-durham-in-2017/november-2017/

Emeritus Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

Categories
Yearly Summary

2016 Yearly Summary

2016 was the 17th warmest year (9.4°C) at Durham since 1850, 0.1°C warmer than last year. Of the 16 warmer years, nine have been since 2000; in a stationary series, only two would be expected. Only two months fell below the 1961 – 1990 average temperature: April and November. Whilst the decadal running mean for annual temperature has fallen slightly from a peak in 2002 (9.7°C), it remains higher than at any stage before 1998. As a result the number of ground frosts was well below average, the 3rd equal lowest total since 1931 (beaten only in 2000 and 2014). The annual rainfall total (698.9mm) was 49.9mm above average but this is not an exceptional total, ranking 58th highest in 168 years. It was a dull year (1160.2 hours), only 89% of the normal amount of sunshine, the 10th least sunny year since 1882.

http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.weather/weather-data-2016-2020/the-weather-at-durham-in-2016/

Professor Tim Burt
Department of Geography
Durham University

Categories
Ice and Snow March Weather Spring Weather Weather Video

March 2013 – The Coldest since 1962

It was the coldest March since 1962 for the UK. Forecaster Charlie explains why it was so cold and what kind of weather characterised the month.

Here was the scene from the Pennines early in April 2013.